Convocation: Recognizing the Class of 2023

May 15, 2023 | Alumni

S.J. Quinney College of Law 2023 graduates sit in Kingsbury Hall during convocation ceremonyCongratulations to the S.J. Quinney College of Law Class of 2023, who graduated Friday, May 12! Convocation ceremonies were held at Kingsbury Hall, a historic assembly hall on campus, and celebrations continued at the S.J. Quinney of Law building later that morning and afternoon.

The class of 2023 includes 85 total students from 24 different states and territories. These students also logged more than 1,500 hours total of pro bono service. Get to know them a bit better with the following quick facts:

  • 13% are first-generation college students
  • 49% speak a language other than English
  • 55% identify as female
  • 13% hold graduate degrees other than a Juris Doctor

In her introduction speech, Dean Elizabeth Kronk Warner reminded students that Associate Dean Reyes Aguilar had given the class of 2023 the word “pivotal” back in August 2020 because he felt the word would represent them.

“You have truly been pivotal in so many ways—pivotal to our College of Law community and the larger community. You have already made the world a better place and accomplished amazing things despite the tremendous obstacles you have faced. You are truly outstanding,” Kronk Warner expressed.

S.J. Quinney College of Law class of 2023 statisticsHere are a few more pivotal accomplishments from the class of 2023:

  • Victoria Carrington, a Quinney Research Fellow, worked closely with Professor Jorge Contreras on a research project focused on the intellectual property landscape surrounding a new Assisted Reproductive Technology called in vitro gametogenesis.
  • Alex Chang was lead author on an article published in the Utah Bar Journal titled “Resolving the Dahl Conundrum,” which stems in part from Alex’s directed research project focusing on Utah’s asset protection trust statute.
  • Zara Guinard was awarded a grant from the Golden Rule Project for her innovative research on sexual harassment in the workplace, which presents a novel framework that conceives sexual harassment as a workplace hazard and safety issue and offers new avenues for regulatory oversight.
  • Joe Marshall completed a summer internship in data privacy law at O.C. Tanner, where he developed a playbook detailing global data privacy laws, built the privacy section on the company’s website, and made sure the company remained in compliance with local data privacy laws around the world.
  • Madalin Rooker created the first-ever legal intern role at the U’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action, where she worked closely with the U’s Title IX Coordinator and others to investigate discrimination complaints, and assisted with disability requests and ADA accommodations.

Justice Jill M. Pohlman, who has served on the Utah Supreme Court since 2022 and graduated from the College of Law in 1996, delivered this year’s commencement address. She recounted a story from Congressman John Lewis, who as a child clasped hands with his aunt and cousins to keep their home standing during a terrible storm.

“You have earned and armed yourselves with a powerful education that—if you are willing to stand with others in the storms that will come—can be used to help find solutions to those challenges,” Pohlman said. “We need lawyers who are committed to making a positive impact in this world. Individuals need you; our communities need you; our worlds need you.”

Read more about the class of 2023’s achievements below:

  • Jacob Bandas was awarded the Wallace Stegner Center’s Dewsnup Fellowship, earning him a clerkship with the chief of the Natural Resources Division of the Attorney General’s Office in the summer of 2021.
  • Jordan Cobabe worked with IP faculty to provide patent filing advice to seventeen interdisciplinary student teams from across the state as part of the annual Bench To Bedside competition, hosted by University of Utah Health’s Center for Medical Innovation.
  • Brooke Porter Coles launched a mentorship program that matches female S.J. Quinney students with local female attorneys to provide career guidance, support and friendship in her leadership role in the Women’s Law Caucus.
  • Alyssa Florack completed a legal internship entirely remotely in summer 2021 for the Environmental Law & Policy Center in Chicago, providing critical research support to the center’s attorneys and contributing to several important cases, even during the height of the pandemic.
  • Amanda Gray prepared the annual proxy statement for leading outdoor equipment manufacturer Vista Outdoor, providing critical information about the company to shareholders and the SEC, while working as a summer intern there.
  • Samantha Meeker spoke about her path to law school at the Federal Bar Association’s Tenth Circuit Rising Professionals Symposium, joining co-panelists Utah Supreme Court Justice Paige Peterson and entertainment attorney Jeff Cohen, a former child actor who played the character “Chunk” in the film The Goonies.
  • Paris Wagner received the Wallace Stegner Center’s Robert Schmid Natural Resources Writing Award, which is given annually to the student who authors the best paper on a natural resources topic.